Even the locals say it: Singapore weather is hot. Most people who’ve lived here long enough have a tried-and-tested combination of cool, comfortable clothes, flip flops, frequent air conditioned escapes, and iced drinks to beat the heat. And then, of course, there’s ice cream. The ice cream options in Singapore are just as varied as any other type of food you’ll find on the island.
Children in Singapore love the familiar sight of the ice cream cart outside school. Today, these carts can be found even in shopping districts like Orchard Road. You’ll get a rectangular block of ice cream (there are normally 3-4 flavours to choose from), in between two thin wafers or in a thick multicoloured slice of sweetened bread. Traditional ice cream carts also often sell red bean ice cream on sticks.
Singapore is also where you can find ice cream varieties from all over the world. Dondurma is Turkish ice cream that is stickier and stretchier than most commercial ice cream – and is often prepared with a great deal of visual spectacle at street stalls. Then there’s the Indian kulfi, found in the dessert section of most Indian restaurants and in a couple of specialist kulfi bars, made with cream, cornstarch and spices – and available in flavours ranging from pistachio and vanilla to Baileys and rose. If you’re after something lighter and softer, try some Hokkaido ice cream, typically sold at specialty ice cream cafés and at stalls in shopping malls.
And while not technically ice cream, Singapore’s most famous iced dessert is ice kacang – a snowcone in a bowl, with lots of extras. Ice kacang starts with a generous serving of palm seeds, red beans and jelly in a bowl. A mountain of shaved ice is then added, and then drizzled with multicoloured sweet syrup, condensed milk, and sweet corn. In some versions, a scoop of regular ice cream with fruit paste or chocolate syrup tops the dessert. If all you want is the ice and toppings, ask for it kosong, which means empty.
Even if all you’re looking for is a regular ice cream sundae or a scoop of gelato, Singapore has plenty of that too – with international brand cafés and ice cream parlours, and simple gelato stands, not to mention a whole slew of frozen yogurt options! But what you may find most interesting is the variety of flavours you’ll see. Tropical fruit flavours like lychee, calamansi, coconut and soursop are almost standard – and then there are the more exotic ones like red bean, gula melaka, chendol, matcha, durian and even Tiger beer!